‘Her journalism lives on, her legacy is strong’: Kamahl Santamaria on Yasmine Ryan

Tributes have abounded today for NZ reporter Yasmine Ryan, who has died in Turkey aged 34. Here, Kamahl Santamaria remembers his compatriot and former colleague. Below, on a recent trip home she joined media commentator Gavin Ellis to discuss doing journalism in some of the world’s most volatile places.

Born in France and brought up in New Zealand, Yasmine Ryan had her heart set from a young age upon becoming a foreign correspondent. Her death, which according to reports came after falling from a window in Instanbul, has prompted an outpouring of tributes.

In her career, Ryan, who was 34, lived in and reported from countries including Tunisia, Lybia, Qatar and most recently Turkey.

Her former colleague at al-Jazeera, New Zealand broadcaster Kamahl Santamaria, writes:

There are a lot of ways to describe Yasmine Ryan. People are using words like intrepid, compassionate, inspiring.  They’re all correct.
 
But I would simplify even further. Yasmine was, and remains in her passing, a proper journalist.
 
People like me sit in studios, read words, interview talking heads.  Someone like Yasmine got out there and found the news.  She lived and breathed the news, and cared deeply about the stories and people she came across.  She wanted to make sure that the injustices and hardships they endured were brought to light, and she never let go of them.
 
How wonderful it is that a young woman from New Zealand became a respected international journalist, particularly in places like the Middle East and North Africa – where usually, it’s all about local contacts and knowledge?  Sure she had local contacts, but she became one herself. A go-to person.  Full of knowledge and experiences which enhanced her journalism and other people’s lives. I think that’s fantastic.
 
The great shame – alongside her untimely and tragic death – is that more Kiwis didn’t know of her and her work until she was gone.
 
Luckily, her journalism lives on and her legacy is strong.
 
Goodbye Yasmine.  We won’t forget you.
*

On a visit back to New Zealand in October, Ryan sat down with Gavin Ellis, RNZ media commentator and a former editor of the NZ Herald. In a half-hour conversation, she discusses the life of a foreign correspondent, her motivations, techniques and background.

A Give a Little page has been set up for Yasmine’s family – you can donate here

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